[ cher-ee-pik ]
/ ˈtʃɛr iˌpɪk /
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verb (used with object)
to select with great care: Out of the scores of zombie movies, this reviewer has cherry-picked some of the best ones for fans.
to select (data, examples, etc.) strategically so as to support a particular view or conclusion: The company systematically cherry-picked data to ensure their products passed quality control tests.
verb (used without object)
(in retail use) to buy only the sale items and ignore the other merchandise.
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Origin of cherry-pick

First recorded in 1970–75
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does cherry-pick mean?

To cherry-pick is to choose very carefully. It especially means to select the best of what’s available or being offered.

The word sometimes implies that doing so is solely for one’s benefit or gain, or to gain an advantage over others.

In the context of research and data, it’s used in a more specific way meaning to selectively choose and present information that supports an existing point of view or hypothesis. This kind of cherry-picking is often unethical.

In sports like basketball and soccer (football), cherry-pick means something different: to position oneself away from the main action and most defenders, near the basket or goal, in hopes of being passed the ball and being able to score easily. A person who does this can be called a cherry picker.

The term cherry picker can also refer to anyone who cherry-picks in any of the senses of the word. It’s also used in a much more specific way to refer to a kind of crane with a bucket for a person to stand in, especially one mounted on a truck. This kind of cherry picker can be used to lift someone up to heights that can’t be reached by most ladders, such as to trim trees or fix power lines.

Cherry-pick is sometimes spelled without a hyphen, as cherry pick.

Example: When I was building my computer, I had to cherry-pick the best components from multiple brands to achieve a well-constructed machine.

Where does cherry-pick come from?

The first records of cherry-pick in a nonliteral sense come from around the middle of the 1900s.

Someone literally picking cherries would only select the best ones, and a person who cherry-picks in the common figurative sense of the word is trying to do the same thing: select the best stuff from what’s available. In the context of sports, research, and data, cherry-picking is often seen as unfair, unethical, or as downright cheating.

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What are some other forms related to cherry-pick?

  • cherry pick (unhyphenated alternate spelling)
  • cherry-picked (past tense verb, adjective)
  • cherry-picking (continuous tense verb, noun)
  • cherry picker (noun)

What are some words that share a root or word element with cherry-pick



What are some words that often get used in discussing cherry-pick?

How is cherry-pick used in real life?

Cherry-pick can be used in both neutral and negative ways. Cherry-picking in the context of research is typically considered unethical.


Try using cherry-pick!

Is cherry-pick used correctly in the following sentence?

It’s hard to debate with him because he cherry-picks the facts that support his argument.

How to use cherry-pick in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cherry-pick


(tr) to choose or take the best or most profitable of (a number of things), esp for one's own benefit or gaincherry-pick the best routes
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012